If you loved Christopher Wheeldon’s An American in Paris on Broadway, you can now see the 1951 Oscar-winning movie it’s based on in all its Technicolor glory. Fathom Events will present MGM’s An American in Paris, starring Gene Kelly and French ballerina Leslie Caron, and with music by George and Ira Gershwin, in select theaters nationwide January 19 and 22.
The story follows former WWII GI Jerry Mulligan (Kelly), an American expatriate in Paris trying to make a living as an artist. Along the way he falls in love with a shop girl, Lise (a then-19-year-old Caron), who unbeknownst to him is his friend’s fiancée. Naturally, a love triangle ensues.
While Kelly was already an established star, the movie marked Caron’s film debut. Kelly, who was also the film’s choreographer, had spotted her onstage in France while she was dancing with Roland Petit’s Ballets de Champ de Elysées, and asked her to do a screen test for the role. She went on to star in Gigi, Daddy Long Legs and other musicals.
An American in Paris is packed with singing, dancing and Hollywood glamour. But Kelly’s 17-minute dream ballet finale is what really sets the musical apart. (The ballet alone, with its elaborate sets and cast of thousands, cost $450,000 to produce. And that was almost 70 years ago!) It’s what made me rent this movie over and over again as a young dancer. And, fun fact: former New York City Ballet principal Robbie Fairchild, who played the original Jerry Mulligan on Broadway, has said that Gene Kelly was his biggest role model growing up. To see if An American in Paris is coming to a cinema near you, click here and enter your zip code.